Oct. 9, 2012
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Wyoming Cowboys (1-4 overall and 0-1 in the Mountain West) host the Air Force Falcons (2-3 overall and 1-1 in the MW) Saturday in the 88th Homecoming game at the University of Wyoming and the 63rd Homecoming game to be played in War Memorial Stadium. This year's meeting between the Cowboys and Falcons is the 51st in the series between the two Front Range rivals. Saturday's game will kick off at 5 p.m., Mountain Time.
Last season, Wyoming defeated UNLV, 41-14, on Homecoming Day. Wyoming is 42-42-3 (.500) overall in Homecoming games, and has a record of 37-23-2 (.613) in Homecoming games played in War Memorial Stadium.
The Wyoming-Air Force series is one of the great series in college football, and Saturday will celebrate the 51st game between the Pokes and Falcons. In a series that began back in 1957, the closeness of the series between the rivals is reflected in the many hard-fought games through the years. Air Force holds a 26-21-3 advantage heading into this week's meeting. In games played in Laramie, the Cowboys hold a one-game advantage with a record of 11-10-2. Air Force holds a six-game advantage in games played at the Academy, leading 16-10-1. Since the two Front Range rivals moved to the Mountain West Conference, Air Force holds an 8-5 advantage in the MW series record.
In a very odd coincidence, both the Wyoming Cowboys and Air Force Falcons are coming off overtime losses last week, and both teams held leads into the fourth quarter before suffering losses. Wyoming held a 28-21 lead at Nevada until the Wolf Pack tied the game at 28-28 with 1:18 remaining in the game. Nevada then scored in the first overtime to defeat the Cowboys 35-28. Air Force held a 21-14 lead against Navy until the Midshipmen tied the game at 21-21 with 6:35 remaining in the game. Navy went on to defeat the Falcons 28-21 in the first overtime.
Sophomore quarterback Brett Smith continues to rank among the nation's best quarterbacks. Smith leads the Mountain West in passing efficiency (167.1 rating) and ranks No. 7 in the nation. He also leads the conference in total offense (336.0 yards per game) and is ninth in the country in that category. Smith has thrown for an average of 295.5 yards through the air to rank No. 2 in the MW and No. 15 in the NCAA.
Wyoming's defense did a much better job defending the run last week, holding the nation's leading rusher, Stefphon Jefferson of Nevada to only 78 yards rushing -- 97 yards under his average. Jefferson came into the game averaging 175.4 yards per game.
This coming Saturday, the Pokes will face the NCAA's new No. 1 ranked rusher, Air Force running back Cody Getz. Getz is averaging 177.4 yards rushing per game. He is the first Falcon in school history to rush for 200 yards in three different games in the same season. Getz has rushed for 218 yards vs. Idaho State, 222 vs. Colorado State and 204 vs. Navy this season.
Air Force is the No. 2 ranked rushing team in the nation, averaging 389.6 yards per game. Last week, Nevada was the fourth ranked rushing team in the NCAA, averaging 308.8 rushing yards.
Five of the Top 10 tacklers in the Mountain West will be featured in Saturday's game. For Wyoming, senior linebackers Ghaali Muhammad and Korey Jones rank second and third in the conference in tackles. Muhammad averages 9.2 tackles to rank No. 2 in the MW and No. 41 in the nation. Jones averages 8.6 tackles per game, ranking him No. 3 in the conference and No. 64 nationally. Cowboy senior defensive tackle Mike Purcell leads all Mountain West defensive linemen in tackles this season, averaging 7.6 per game. He ranks eighth in the league. The Mountain West's leading tackler is Air Force senior linebacker Austin Niklas, who averages 9.6 tackles per outing, which also ranks him 25th in the nation. Senior defensive back Brian Lindsay of Air Force is tied with Purcell for eighth place at 7.6 tackles per game.
The Cowboys have taken a positive step forward in turnover margin over their past two games at Idaho and at Nevada. The Cowboy Defense has forced three turnovers in each of those past two games for a total of six forced turnovers, while the offense didn't commit any turnovers at Idaho and committed only two at Nevada.
A year ago, UW broke a five-game losing streak versus Air Force, with a win at the Academy. Cornerback Marqueston Huff picked up a fumble with 25 seconds remaining in the game and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown to give the Cowboys an eight-point lead at 25-17. On the Falcons' first play of the ensuing drive, Huff intercepted a pass to seal the victory for the Pokes.
The Wyoming-Air Force game will be broadcast live on radio over the Cowboy Sports Network, beginning with the pregame show one hour prior to kickoff.
Saturday's game will also be televised live by ROOT Sports. To find out if ROOT is available in your area, click here for ROOT Sports in the Rocky Mountain Region or here for ROOT Sports in the Northwest Region.